EU Consumer Law

Teaching hours and credit allocation: 16 hours, 3 credits

The aim of this module is to study the process of market integration in the EU from the consumer’s point of view. The module examines the mechanisms that can assure that EU marketplace provides consumers with quality goods and services at optimal prices. The rise of consumerism is a response to the vulnerability of consumers and the need to protect them against dangerous products, fraudulent and deceptive practices, unconscionable contracts, etc. Consumer protection throughout the European marketplace is a significant issue in the EU policy agenda. From product liability and consumer contracts to labelling and advertising, the module provides a comprehensive analysis of EU legislation and policies affecting consumers.

Learning outcomes

On completion of this module, students are expected to be able to:

  • Appreciate the size of the EU market, the need for consumer protection and the need for harmonising rights for consumers;
  • Understand the paradigm of the informed consumer;
  • Understand the mechanisms of individual and collective consumer protection;
  • Explore the relevant legal instruments;
  • Explore important judgments of the European Court of Justice on consumer law;

Content

  • Origins and evolution of EU Consumer Law;
  • Sources of EU Consumer Law; the consumer law directives;
  • The process towards the adoption of the Directive on Consumer Rights;
  • Selected European Court of Justice cases;
  • The relationship between consumer law and competition law;
  • Unfair commercial practices, with special reference misleading advertising and aggressive sales practices;
  • Product liability / liability for defective products;
  • Product safety, with focus on food safety;
  • The General Product Safety Directive;
  • Sector-specific legislation: chemicals, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, toys, etc.
  • EU rapid alert systems for dangerous consumer products;
  • Major food scandals and alarms;
  • Market surveillance; strengths and weaknesses of the current framework;
  • European Committee for Standardisation and other standard-setting bodies at national and European level;
  • Sale of goods and services, with special reference to e-commerce;
  • The Electronic Commerce Directive;
  • Consumer protection in the field of financial services;
  • Consumer protection in the fields of travel and tourism;
  • The EU Consumer Policy Strategy 2007-2013;
  • Imports into the EU from third countries; the role of custom authorities;
  • Cross-border enforcement; the Regulation on consumer protection cooperation;
  • The OECD cross-border fraud guidelines;
  • Litigation, remedies and enforcement;
  • Towards a European approach to collective redress, injunctive relief and compensatory relief; creating “class actions” along the US model?
  • The role of European consumer organisations;
  • Alternative dispute resolution for consumers in the internal market.